Atmosphere

The Life of Okanagan Lake: a Meditation on the Year Before Us

When warmer water strikes in colder air, it brings objects to life, by bringing it across a boundary of energy into a new state. It does so by moving the boundary. Rain works like this, and snow, pressed out of the air by mountains. However it comes about, the difference between the two states is held in a form that is on both sides of the energy boundary at once. This willow stick on the shore of Okanagan Lake yesterday shows the process well.

Any modern imagination at home in streets and the services of government, or even one more at home in the codes, images and hypes of the Cloud, will look out to the Earth to find moments like this, and be, quite literally, brought to life by them. The process is called recreation, or, to be direct about it, re-creation. One draws on the energy of the Earth and takes life away. Obviously, one was alive on both sides of the moment, but that’s not the sense of “alive” at play here. The other sense is the one sought for, a kind of energy, or breath, of livingness.

The Ancient Syilx Village at Today’s Ellison Park Would Have Drawn Annually on these Oregon Grape Berries

By drawing on the Earth’s store of energy, one is re-stored, or, to be more commonplace about it, restored. For such an imagination, it works the other way as well. If one spends too much time on Earth, one becomes separated from one’s self and emptied, or, as we say, bored. At that point, the restoration happens on return to the Cloud, or the street, or the house, or wherever the self is bonded and bounded.

If you pass through this arch, where will you be? In the same forest, for sure, yet it will not be the “same.” Nor will you.

Another way to experience these crossover effects and their lingering ghosts of waking is to return to the Indigenous knowledge that informs this sense of “the living world” or, as we say, being “really alive”, not to give up on modern thinking, as one’s street sense might put it, but to broaden and deepen it, to include the deep time of experience in these forests and shores, or, as we’ve encountered above, to restore oneself. The time of reconciliation is avoidable only by death. If we choose death, it will not come on Earth but only in the lingering ghosts of it, a strange land in which recreation is play, a forest can be entered for exercise, using your ghost, your spirit, your Geist (as the Germans put it) to lead your body (which is all you are), the way one handles a horse to limber it up in preparation for a race, and you can go out to the lake and come back through the Oregon grapes unchanged.

This is one of the simpler forms of Christian experience writ large in Cascadian society, that reconciliation, reunion and fullness, or “real life” itself, will happen in “the other world,” the world of spirit, the lingering effects of moments of quickening…

… that one can create a self to live within, as a narrative. These effects, and this “other world” are as real as any and as expressive of human thinking as the one called “real”. The heart of human experience, though, this renewal, this creation, this holding, or minding, life at boundaries of energy, so that both sides are present at once, that is a spirit we can practice on this Earth itself. When one draws from the Earth’s well…

… one must ensure it is re-filled. What applies to us, Earth’s creatures, applies to the Earth, as well.

It too is alive. The year is being reborn again. It’s not a new one, only fuller. With the cold, the sour berries are (slowly) growing sweet.

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